Senior Citizens are a special group of people that often have physical and/or mental disabilities that your program may have the capacity to serve. We recently had a group come out and I want to share what we did, and see what you have done! Some of these ideas are from a Senior Citizen Program article in PATH Intl.’s STRIDES magazine.
Senior Citizen Program
- Arrive, situate facing the arena, put helmest on
- Introduction – share names and past horse experience
- Horse Grooming
- Demo grooming a horse, pass around the brushes to feel and name
- Groom the horses (take turns depending on how many horses and volunteers you have)
- Focus on letting them pet and bond with the horse while using both hands and sides of their body equally. Only do as much as they are able to.
- Work on memory of the grooming tools and their order
- Horse Behavior
- Talk about horse behavior and tell them what to look for
- Free lunge two horses in the arena (participants should be outside the arena watching)
- Discuss what they saw
- Feed treats (from buckets) and take pictures with the horses
Other Senior Citizen Activities
- take pictures throughout the event then create a scrapbook or poster they can take home with them
- paint/chalk the horses, then bathe
- learn to lead
- ride, if they are able
- play horse behavior Bingo while watching the horses lunge together
- pick carrots from the garden (if you have one) and feed the horses
- make a bran mash treat and feed the horses
PATH Intl.’s Precautions and Contraindications manual states: “the older participant may be more likely to have health challenges, and therefore a careful health history, including medication review, is essential. Common health issues that are found elsewhere in this document might include: heart conditions, respiratory compromise, fragile skin/skin integrity, osteoporosis, diabetes, sensitivity to environmental factors such as heat, cold or allergens, and fatigue/poor endurance.”
Take extra special care to think about where you will seat them, how far they need to walk, how you will keep those less able-bodied safe around the horses, and how to keep them comfortable in the given weather.
Remember to talk very loudly and talk facing them at all times, since many have problems hearing.
What about you?
The above info is from a program we did and ideas from an article in a recent PATH Intl. magazine.
Do you have anything to add? What do you do with your seniors?
Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement!